COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – Two Richland County Sheriff’s deputies may have prevented a suicidal man from jumping off a highway overpass Tuesday.
Dashcam video shows Sheriff’s Lt. Albert “Mac” McLendon arrive on the scene on Parklane Rd. at the I-277 overpass. There he found a man sitting on the ledge, outside the guardrail. He says he could hear the man crying and speaking, and then saw that he was talking on a cell phone. “With his back to me, my first thought was, ‘I’ve got to get my hands on this guy,’ McLendon says.
He found out later the man was talking on the phone with his aunt. “His family had left him. He didn’t know how else he was able to deal with it. He knew of no other way of dealing with it, other than this decision he was about to make,” McLendon says.
He had kneeled down and reached through the guardrail to grab the man’s belt, to keep him from jumping or slipping off. He then radioed for backup to help him get the man to safety.
The man wailed, “I’m gonna jump!” McLendon can be heard on the dashcam video saying, “Just don’t do that. Come back here and talk a bit. I love you too much. Come on. Come on.”
It may sound unusual for McLendon to tell the man he loved him, but he says that’s what he wanted to get across to the man right away. “He’s probably thought he’s lost everyone at this point, and here’s a total stranger, a guy in uniform, a police officer, a deputy sheriff of all things, coming up and telling him he loves him,” he says. He also asked the man about his children, and said he needed to be here for them.
Sheriff’s Investigator David Goff arrived on the scene, leaned over the guardrail and grabbed the man. “I got him to stand up, and when he stood to his feet I just bear-hugged him, where I could hold on to him and just kind of leaned, picked him up and myself and Lt. McLendon pulled him back across onto the sidewalk and I set him down,” he says.
The man continued to cry and threatened to jump, as the deputies tried to calm him down. An ambulance then arrived to take the man to the hospital for observation and treatment.
Goff says, “We got him, EMS was there and he said, you know, ‘I’m not going. I’m gonna jump out of this ambulance.’ And I said, ‘No you’re not. If I have to ride with you I will.’ And he looked at me, he stopped and he looked at me and he said, ‘Well, will you go to the hospital with me?’ I told him yes, I’ll follow him.”
He followed in his vehicle and then walked the man into the emergency room.
Both men say they were doing what comes naturally, being a part of their community and doing their jobs. Goff says, “We’re there to help people–makes no difference–you need help, we’re going to come.”